Israeli commercial airlines, including El Al, are equipped with state-of-the-art safety systems that ensure a high level of security for passengers and aircraft. Let’s take a closer look at the remarkable technology behind this protection.
In November 2004, an Israeli Arkia Boeing 757 narrowly avoided disaster when terrorists targeted it with MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems) in Kenya. Miraculously, both missiles fired at the aircraft missed, allowing the 200 passengers and crew to escape unharmed.
Recognizing the genuine threats posed to commercial aircraft, the Israeli government moved swiftly to develop protective equipment known as the ‘Flight Guard System.’ This innovative system, designed by Elta, incorporates a range of sensors and components for comprehensive defense.
The Flight Guard System includes a Missile Warning System (MWS) that alerts the aircraft crew to incoming missile threats. It uses a Doppler system to track approaching missiles. When a threat is detected, the aircraft can execute evasive maneuvers or deploy an Infrared (IR) flare to divert the attention of an incoming IR-seeking missile. By projecting these flares as a more appealing target (given their higher heat signature compared to the aircraft), the system effectively safeguards the aircraft.
In a remarkable advancement, Israeli aircraft also began using invisible flares, rendering them undetectable to external observers. However, this system faced opposition from some countries, such as Switzerland and certain European Union members, due to concerns about potential damage or injury caused by low-flying flares.
To address these concerns, Elbit Systems introduced a new solution in 2008: the Commercial Multi-Spectral Infrared Countermeasure (C-MUSIC). This fully automatic system, as shown in the accompanying image, is typically positioned on the lower part of the aircraft, as threats are most likely to come from below. All sensors are strategically placed to enhance detection.
When the C-MUSIC system detects an incoming missile, it deploys a laser beam that deflects the threat away from the aircraft. Simultaneously, the pilot is alerted, receiving critical information about the attack. This laser-based self-defense component is known as Directed IR Countermeasures (DIRCM).
Remarkably, the entire system measures a mere 2.4 meters in length and has minimal impact on the aircraft’s performance. The cost of implementing this cutting-edge technology is approximately $1 million per aircraft.
Today, the C-MUSIC system stands as one of the most effective and successful countermeasures against IR-guided missiles, providing an additional layer of security to Israeli commercial airlines. With a history of safe operations dating back to 1947, Israeli airlines have established extensive safety protocols and are continuously updated and protected to ensure passenger well-being.
[Image credit: AirwaysMag]